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Less waste, more party

Nicola Nemaric |  21 May 2018

So, you’re about to throw a big birthday party. You’ve set the date, made up the guest list, and fretted about the forecast (that rain prediction sounds ominous). Caring for the planet is probably the last thing on your mind but being eco-friendly doesn’t have to be too difficult.

Here’s a checklist to help reduce your celebration’s environmental footprint.


We’ve all opened the envelope, admired the design and tossed the invite straight after the event. If the invitation came with surprise confetti, we spent 20 minutes cursing the host’s creativity and vacuuming the carpet. Not your guests. Go paperless (and free) with email or a Facebook event.

For the truly sophisticated, try customisable e-vites at: population, including an increased risk or of respiratory and cardiopulmonary disease. No thanks.

An even greener option is writing your invitations on plantable seed paper. Guests cover invites with dirt, water well and get to enjoy the invitation that keeps on flowering. transport.


If you keep your event local, your guests will love you and you'll cut down pollution from car exhaust.

Poor outdoor air quality has all kinds of nasty side effects for the population, including an increased risk of respiratory and cardiopulmonary disease. No thanks. Choose a venue that is close to public transport.



When planning the catering, think local. Are you sensing a pattern? Get birthday cake ingredients from your grocer down the road. Hire caterers from your area. The less travel, the less petrol exhaust. It’s cheaper, not to mention you’re supporting your community. No matter what I say, you’ll probably still over cater.

Who wants to be the host that runs out of food? Do the inevitable but choose foods that you can either a) freeze and re heat b) give to friends at the end of the night or c) compost.

Composting is a fantastic way to break down food and materials, which struggle to decay in landfill sites. In addition, it makes your soil more nutrient dense for better plant growth.

When it comes to beverages, avoid single use products. Opt for glass jugs, punch bowls and lemonade dispensers. They’re far more aesthetic than plastic cups anyway. For guests who have trouble remembering which glass belongs to them, use wine charms or drink bands. If glasses aren’t an option, choose biodegradable paper over plastic. Go for silverwear, which can be washed and reused. Like plastic cutlery, plastic straws cannot be recycled – straight to the tip they go. However, paper straws can get a bit soggy. Instead, use stainless steel straws or bamboo straws or, even better, no straws at all. Also, choose recyclable napkins.


Whether it’s simple fairy lights in the backyard or ornate table centerpieces, you can easily stay green. Borrowing from friends, family and Facebook groups means no cash spent and no post party decorations going straight to landfill. Alternatively, invest in decorations you can use year after year. Purchase second hand, from Gumtree or eBay. Rent from local stores.

Think through the longevity of your purchases. Will you be able to reuse, resell or lend them? If the answer is no, reconsider your shopping.

Party lighting is easy to keep green. All the low expenditure options create the best ambience. Whether it’s LED string lights, solar lighting or candles in upcycled jars (beeswax or soy candles burn cleaner), you’re ensuring there are fewer emissions and less toxicity for you and your guests.

Balloons might be traditional but they take forever to decompose. Animals can also mistake them for food. Don’t despair. There are trillions of stunning, festive alternatives. Try paper lanterns, fans, flags and bunting. Signs, party hats, table decorations – they can all be recycled if you choose paper over plastic.

When it comes to name cards, there are almost too many eco friendly options. Use the same plantable paper as your invitations. Print on recycled paper. You can even get creative and spell out names using pebbles or lollies.


Go for paper bags rather than plastic and include items that will be treasured, not trashed. Think art supplies, a manicure kit, temporary tattoos, wine glass charms, a CD mix or slime.

You can also turn party activities into take home gifts by making lip balm, perfume, candles, tie dyed pillow cases, glow in the dark stars or baked goods with your guests.


When the music has ended, send guests home with leftovers to prevent waste. Compost food, recycle tableware, upcycle or sell gift bags and boxes.

Clean green with eco friendly products or make your own all purpose cleaner with vinegar, baking soda and water. Personalise with rosemary or orange for a fresh scent.

When the party is over, don't let your good environmental practices fall by the wayside. Reduce, reuse, recyle.

'The defence of the earth has no other purpose than the defence of life.' Pope Francis in a speech to the Amazonian peoples, January 2018. 



Topic tags: sustainableliving, ourrelationshipwithgod, familylife, environmentalissues

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